It’s conference season, and if you’re an entrepreneur you know that conferences can be some of the costliest events and investments in your business in the early days. Because it is such an investment, this checklist will help you get ready. I’ve comprised it over the past seven years, based on the best advice from productivity and organizing industry professionals. I hope it helps you!
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Items to Bring
- Conference packet info
- Travel reservations/confirmations: Travel, Rentals, Hotel, Conference and any other reservations –
- Program airline, hotel, and taxi service phone numbers into your cell phone, and print it out too – so that you have it in case your phone dies (this has happened to me on more than one occasion, and I have to say – I still prefer the PAPER over the electronic options – until battery life improves, I’ll still print out the paper!)
- You may want to see about transfer, travel, and restaurant coupons prior to travel for discounts
- Business cards and business card holder for those you collect
- Business credit card/check book
- Writing supplies: pens/paper/highlighter/possible sharpie if you like them
- Sticky return address labels for prize entries at the Expo (I carry a self-inking stamp pad that helps me fill out any forms quickly as I make my way through the Expo.)
- Lightweight carry bag with zipper for things you pick up along the way
- Plastic envelope for brochures collected at Expo
- Sweater for conference rooms
- Post-it notes to mark conference handouts (if you don’t have e-copies)
- Cell phone and charger (and any other electronic peripherals) I’m a big fan of the “Grid It” organizer products by Cocoon Innovations. They make traveling with accessories and cords so easy!
- Snacks, nuts and protein bars to carry with you
- Calendar/task planner/Notebook or, if you prefer to write – carry a writing tablet with you for notes. I like to carry a notebook because I like to write things down. I reserve the last 10 pages of the notebook with a clip for a to do list of all my ideas that I get during sessions.
- Camera for PR, snapshots and photos to post on your site
- Reusable water bottle
- SNEAKERS & exercise clothing (including Swimsuit in case of pool or sauna)
- Association ID badge (if appropriate) – although you’ll likely receive a conference badge too
- Apps & any materials that help you prep for session content
- If you’re an android or iPhone user, try these apps: Bump, Bar Code Reader, & Evernote
- Consider downloading conference materials prior to your tablet, laptop or pad – this way you can have copies of the materials.
- Netbook, laptop, or tablet. Make sure to take time PRIOR to conference to Download or print out any session handouts (this takes some prep time)
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- Look into choosing your seat in advance.
- Luggage tag for (or something identifiable to mark) the bag you might carry around during conference.
- Check with the airlines in advance for the regulations re: liquids. You are allowed a single, clear quart-sized ziploc bag with liquid containers not exceeding 3.4 oz (100ml) each. Only one per passenger and it must close. Pack this conveniently for retrieval during security checks.
- Rollerboards (suitcases with wheels) or duffels with wheels are great for carry-ons.
- Keep luggage weight in mind b/c 1. you have to carry it and 2. Airlines have weight restrictions and/or charges (i.e. over 50 lbs., etc.) ‘1 personal item and 1 carry-on item’ with you on a plane.
- Don’t forget any meds you may want or need.
- If you wear contacts pack your necessary supplies in your carry on just in case.
- Don’t carry keys or other metal items in your pockets, pack them in your carry on.
- If you are traveling with a video camera or laptop, you must remove these from the cases before going through security
- Accessories and jewelry could set off the metal detectors and could be potentially lost or stolen
- You may have difficulty finding room for a larger suitcase in the overhead (if it is a full flight, depending on when you board) So, consider checking it.
A Note About Food At Conferences
- There are many meals included in your conference registration fee.
- Whenever food is offered, get there EARLY… It disappears.
- Most lunches are included and if you have dietary requirements, be sure to mention it to the servers.
- Sometimes, continental breakfasts will be available at meeting rooms prior to conference sessions. But, full breakfasts are often not included – so if you require protein, you should plan to get in line and buy some.
- Big sessions generally have water available but if you drink a lot, carry a water bottle to fill during the day. (You may want to have it on a strap too.)
- Most often dinners are NOT included in your conference fee, and it’s advisable to link up with smaller groups because restaurants can seat you faster in smaller numbers.
- Snack bars, fruit and instant oatmeal/breakfasts etc. can be very helpful.
- Sometimes apples, oranges and sweets are put out in between the afternoon sessions, but be sure to check the schedule and determine when you will attend events, lunches, and buffet gatherings (wine and cheese etc.).
- HINT – For free food, many vendors and special interest groups offer special gatherings both before and after conference sessions. Keep your eyes open during the EXPO to find out more.
While At Your Conference
- If you are new Attend First Timers’ Orientation.
- Register right away and get all your materials.
- Check out the hotel and facility – to be sure you know where you’re going. Some conferences are really spread out.
- Check out restaurants and dining options on site if you need a quick meal or snack.
Following Up After Conference
- Block out a half-day to resettle in your office. During that time, FOLLOW UP with everyone you meet. Send a hand-written note, email or connect in some way to ensure an open pipeline for ongoing communication.
- Take action or block out time on your calendar in the following two weeks for everything you said you would take action on during the conference.
I’ve created this as a Checklist on Google Drive – Click here to print this list out or save it in Evernote to help you find it again in the future!
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Share Your Tips!
What do you think? What have I missed? Please add your ideas or additional checklist items in the comments below!